flyingpertyhigh
Posts: 20
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2019 1:49 pm

Commuting 160 miles in a Spark EV

Mon May 13, 2019 5:52 am

Hi everyone - this is a tremendous community . I wanted to share my commuting schedule in my Spark EV. When we bought the car used my wife only needed to get around town, but she just took a job in Irvine and we are not in a position to get a different car. We don’t have DC fast charging option.

The office is 79.5 miles from home taking the I-5 north to Irvine from San Diego.
Assuming my wife gets an average of 4.3mi/kWh@65mph, this trip is possible with a slight inconvenience/stop. She puts the cruise control on 55mph and only uses seat heater - no heat.
We are driving a 2014 Spark which shows between 66-75 miles on a full charge depending who drove last.
About halfway, she stops at Oceanside Transit Center where there are 7 blink chargers. Only having the 3.3kw charger makes this slightly more inconvenient but still possible. She charges for 30 minutes while going inside and drinking a coffee / starting email.

That gives her enough to comfortably make it to work and plug in for 5 hours and get a full charge at a ChargePoint. She then does the same coming home but in reverse.

We have AAA with 100 miles of towing if something goes wrong, and she knows she can always just park and get in an Uber.

I guess my question is - is this insane? We literally just bought the car this year and to have to sell it and get a new one we’d take a loss on the sales tax of the Spark. Plus there really isn’t anything else available for <$10k that goes 100 miles on a charge. I looked at the Focus EV but the newer ones with the +100 mile range haven’t come down in price yet on the used market.

Thanks!

scrambler
Posts: 135
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2017 4:11 pm

Re: Commuting 160 miles in a Spark EV

Mon May 13, 2019 8:46 am

flyingpertyhigh wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 5:52 am
I guess my question is - is this insane?
Well that is a very personal question that only depends on the person having to live with it :)

I personally cant help but plan for the worse, so I would not do it as it would be too much stress.
But if she is fine with it, then that is all that matters.

Kermit
Posts: 45
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2019 10:47 am

Re: Commuting 160 miles in a Spark EV

Mon May 13, 2019 9:39 am

I'd agree that sounds like a personal preference. I'd enjoy the extra 30 minutes to myself in the morning to get ahead on e-mails.

I personally think (and this is my opinion) that your real question should be if commuting that far is really reasonable. A lot of people don't consider the wear and tear/depreciation costs on a vehicle as part of their finances or the time away from family. That trip would be getting close to putting 40,000 miles a year on your car if it's done 5 days a week, that may require buying a new(er) car every 4 years. That's also 3.5 hours a day in a car commuting and/or charging that you are not with your family that's 17.5 hours a week. You may consider reading Your Money or Your Life and/or checking out the Mr. Money Mustache blog to make sure you are looking at the big picture in making this decision as it could have an affect further down the road as you begin looking to retire.

Good luck in whatever choice you choose to make and I hope my response does not come across the wrong way.
2016 Spark EV

MrDRMorgan
Posts: 960
Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:27 am
Location: Manteca, California

Re: Commuting 160 miles in a Spark EV

Mon May 13, 2019 2:24 pm

1 hour of L2 charging adds about 3 kWh to the battery. At 4.3 mi/kwh, you are only adding about 13 miles of range. You must also take battery degradation into consideration. TorquePro battery capacity data I have taken for my 2014 Spark EV w/o DCFC shows my battery capacity has degraded 0.5 kWh over the last seven months during which time 2000 miles was added to the ODO. I currently have just over 18K miles on the ODO. If it continues at this rate, I will lose 1.0 kWh every 4000 miles - about 1 year's worth of local driving.

I also went back to some early "calculated" battery capacity numbers I have for ODO = 1661 to ODO = 10550. The calculated data shows I lost 2.13 kWh of battery capacity over approximately 9000 miles. This breaks down to a degradation rate of .24 kWh / 1000 miles. This is almost the same rate of degradation as the TorquePro data shows for recent data. My calculated battery capacity started out at 20.1 kWh between 1500 and 1900 miles on the ODO.

Note: My most recent battery capacity TorquePro measurement was 16.2 kWh at 18,388 miles on the ODO. My current full-charge GOM range is 95 miles. Here, in Central California, the cold winter weather will drop that to around 70 miles.

Finally, the HV battery does not like to be cycled between almost full and almost empty. 20% / 80-85% is claimed to be better. I am testing that claim right now but I will have to wait until fall to have enough data to see any trend change.
Last edited by MrDRMorgan on Mon May 13, 2019 4:10 pm, edited 12 times in total.

Chris101
Posts: 98
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2018 11:37 am

Re: Commuting 160 miles in a Spark EV

Mon May 13, 2019 3:10 pm

maybe upgrade to the AAA Premier Platinum like we have which gives you up to 200 miles free towing! ... just an idea

flyingpertyhigh
Posts: 20
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2019 1:49 pm

Re: Commuting 160 miles in a Spark EV

Wed May 15, 2019 8:20 pm

Kermit wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 9:39 am
I'd agree that sounds like a personal preference. I'd enjoy the extra 30 minutes to myself in the morning to get ahead on e-mails.

I personally think (and this is my opinion) that your real question should be if commuting that far is really reasonable. A lot of people don't consider the wear and tear/depreciation costs on a vehicle as part of their finances or the time away from family. That trip would be getting close to putting 40,000 miles a year on your car if it's done 5 days a week, that may require buying a new(er) car every 4 years. That's also 3.5 hours a day in a car commuting and/or charging that you are not with your family that's 17.5 hours a week. You may consider reading Your Money or Your Life and/or checking out the Mr. Money Mustache blog to make sure you are looking at the big picture in making this decision as it could have an affect further down the road as you begin looking to retire.

Good luck in whatever choice you choose to make and I hope my response does not come across the wrong way.
Its funny you say this - my wife loves reading Mr Money Mustache but failed to see the connection. She's been looking for work for 4 months since we moved cross country for my job, and was just excited to find work anywhere. I'd prefer she just stay at home and keep looking but she wants to work. Your response absolutely did not come across the wrong way - I totally get what you're saying and actually agree with you. My wife however doesn't.

flyingpertyhigh
Posts: 20
Joined: Sat Feb 02, 2019 1:49 pm

Re: Commuting 160 miles in a Spark EV

Wed May 15, 2019 8:42 pm

MrDRMorgan wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 2:24 pm
1 hour of L2 charging adds about 3 kWh to the battery. At 4.3 mi/kwh, you are only adding about 13 miles of range. You must also take battery degradation into consideration.
Yea those numbers are about what we see. Yesterday afternoon I took the car myself and drove all the way to her office. Tires were inflated to 35 PSI, HVAC was off except I had the fan on the lowest setting and the passenger vents closed, and car was otherwise empty. I drove 55 mph and not 1 mph faster. Not only did I make it without stopping, I had 11 miles remaining (its a 78.5 mile drive) and my efficiency was 5.62 mi/kwh @ 55mph.

Regarding degradation, after plugging in, I now see a full range of 82 miles - higher than its ever been since I bought the car. Typically a full charge would result in between 66-72 miles range.

It's fantastic to know that she can make it there without stopping. On super hot days come this summer, we'll precondition the car and utilize the fan only. I have a feeling that with tires inflated to 51PSI, and HVAC set to 76 for "some" AC on a hot day, she'd still make it with the above other conditions met.

The drive home was a different story. Lots of hills that just killed range. When I was about 10 miles from home I had 6 miles of calculated range remaining. I'm somewhat confident that I would have made it based on my experience with this car, but my wife would never put herself in that position. She therefore needs to stop on the way home for 30 minutes to get 6.5 miles of range.
MrDRMorgan wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 2:24 pm
Finally, the HV battery does not like to be cycled between almost full and almost empty. 20% / 80-85% is claimed to be better. I am testing that claim right now but I will have to wait until fall to have enough data to see any trend change.
My understanding of the 2014 model was that its an A123 battery which only allows access to 80% of total capacity, while the 2015/2016 went up to 90% of total capacity. Therefore when my charge is full I'm still at a safe margin.

Honestly, I'll do whatever it takes to prevent her from demanding we buy a "$35,000" Tesla M3.

scrambler
Posts: 135
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2017 4:11 pm

Re: Commuting 160 miles in a Spark EV

Thu May 16, 2019 8:22 am

In any case, you have the car, So you can just start by using it, and if it becomes too complicated and or stressful, you can face the need for a new car then :)

SparkieVee
Posts: 37
Joined: Sat Dec 06, 2014 9:00 pm

Re: Commuting 160 miles in a Spark EV

Thu May 16, 2019 10:30 am

flyingpertyhigh wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 8:42 pm
Yea those numbers are about what we see. Yesterday afternoon I took the car myself and drove all the way to her office. Tires were inflated to 35 PSI, HVAC was off except I had the fan on the lowest setting and the passenger vents closed, and car was otherwise empty. I drove 55 mph and not 1 mph faster. Not only did I make it without stopping, I had 11 miles remaining (its a 78.5 mile drive) and my efficiency was 5.62 mi/kwh @ 55mph.
[...]
It's fantastic to know that she can make it there without stopping. On super hot days come this summer, we'll precondition the car and utilize the fan only. I have a feeling that with tires inflated to 51PSI, and HVAC set to 76 for "some" AC on a hot day, she'd still make it with the above other conditions met.

The drive home was a different story. Lots of hills that just killed range. When I was about 10 miles from home I had 6 miles of calculated range remaining. I'm somewhat confident that I would have made it based on my experience with this car, but my wife would never put herself in that position. She therefore needs to stop on the way home for 30 minutes to get 6.5 miles of range.
[...]
Honestly, I'll do whatever it takes to prevent her from demanding we buy a "$35,000" Tesla M3.

That's great that it's doable. I'm not clear on why the hills are more problematic in one direction than the other. It seems more likely to me that it would be a difference in the wind.

With that in mind, know that driving with the cruise at 55 is probably not the most efficient, nor fastest, way to get there. You'd do better in both time and energy usage to follow (at a reasonable distance - no need to tailgate) a big rig going 60-65. What I'd do is get on the highway, set the cruise to 55, then as soon as a truck passed me going 60, I'd tuck in behind it. Then I'd be faster, more efficient, and also likely helping the highway to flow better. I know that not everyone is comfortable following a truck, but that's what I'd do and have done.

And yes, the MMM community would not approve of such a long commute, nor would they agree with buying a Tesla. A used Bolt (or even a well-negotiated new one) would be a cheaper option, but still not MMM approved.

MrDRMorgan
Posts: 960
Joined: Wed Oct 30, 2013 7:27 am
Location: Manteca, California

Re: Commuting 160 miles in a Spark EV

Thu May 16, 2019 3:07 pm

flyingpertyhigh wrote: "My understanding of the 2014 model was that its an A123 battery which only allows access to 80% of total capacity, while the 2015/2016 went up to 90% of total capacity. Therefore when my charge is full I'm still at a safe margin."

I am not sure about your claim for the battery in the 2014 Spark EV. I purchased a used 2014 Spark EV but it only had 1500 miles on the ODO. My calculated battery capacity, derived from the data Energy Information screen, was 20.0 kWh at 1661 miles on 17 Aug 2015. At 16,774 miles on 15 May 19, my TorquePro measured battery capacity was 16.2 kWh. So far, any way I look at it, the degradation rate is about I kWh every 4400 miles. The battery degradation rate in My 2016 Spark EV is just about the same.

The degradation may be due to charging both cars to 100% most of the time. I am now testing the impact, if any, of charging to 80-85% of full charge. Data so far looks promising but I need several more months of data to be sure.

As an added note, I went back to my "calculated" battery capacity data for the 2015 Spark EV I leased. My data shows a calculated battery capacity of 18.8 kWh at 1414 miles and 17.1 kWh at 18,934 miles. That equates to a degradation rate of 1.0 kWh per 10,305 miles.

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